The community has welcomed over 1,300 members and hosted over 150 events in three years. The convertible note from BII will enable it to scale up its model, and it is becoming a Benefit Corp. to further deepen its impact.
BII has become the first major external investor in Boston While Black, a digital and in-person membership network focused on creating spaces, tools and resources that enable Black people to thrive in Boston.
Launched during the COVID-19 pandemic, Boston While Black brings together Black professionals, entrepreneurs and students through a digital community platform and online and in-person events. Members gain access to information and resources, opportunities for networking and professional growth, and culturally relevant experiences where people can build social connections, as well as their connection to the region.
Boston While Black has already delivered over 150 events and welcomed more than 1,300 members. With the new capital, it plans to invest in the team, members and partners to scale up its approach to helping Black people find belonging in cities, disrupt the ways that corporations support their Black talent, and influence government policies and processes that enforce inclusion and belonging. It has also filed documents to become a Benefit Corporation – a for-profit company with an explicit mission to deliver social value and meet high standards for accountability and transparency.
“Having our first investment come from BII is very much in alignment with who we are as a company,” said Sheena Collier, founder and CEO of Boston While Black. “Being founded by a Black woman and led by a BIPOC team, we are demonstrating how when we have the appropriate resources, Black people can and should lead in building the spaces, communities, and systems we need. I hope to not only build a successful local company, but also create the blueprint for how cities across the world can become places where Black people thrive.”
This is the 12th investment made by BII from Fund II, which we launched last year with the goal of raising and investing $20 million in social enterprises and community-owned or controlled real estate projects in Massachusetts and across the Northeast. BII deploys integrated capital – a blend of debt, equity and grant capital, combined with technical assistance, knowledge, and social and political capital – to support entrepreneurs who are committed to making an impact, aiming to build wealth and power in communities of color.
“Sheena and the Boston While Black team work tirelessly to create inclusive spaces for Black experiences, community, and culture, making them a fantastic example of our investment thesis in action,” said Betty Francisco, CEO of BII. “We’re excited by the traction they’ve had locally in such a short time and look forward to keep supporting their growth and vision in the coming years.”